How do we begin to thank the people who cared for our mother, when we could not?
These words are hard to find, but we will try to accurately express the respect that we have for the residential care staff who took care of our mom, Anne McGovern.
Our mother never accepted her diagnosis of Lewy body dementia and to be honest, we never initially realized just how sick she actually was. When the time came to place her in a nursing home, it was surreal.
We know that mom kept you on your toes many days and nights, as she battled the hallucinations and physical limitations that plagued her. Mom was proud of her stubborn ‘fighting Irish’ blood that didn’t always prove to be her best attendant.
We know she was sad at times and mourned the loss of her marriage, freedom, and mobility. We know you were there for her when we couldn’t be.
Anytime we visited her, mom always spoke very highly of the staff, her care and the food. (Except for liver and onion night…we won’t bring that up… we all know and heard how she felt about that!) It was so ironic that it was served on the night of her arrival and the night she passed away. She felt special that she was always offered a separate meal in its stead.
Then COVID hit.
When we couldn’t visit her for pandemic safety reasons, we were too often troubled with visions of mom alone in her room, wondering if she thought we had forgotten her. That fear quickly dissipated. Staff and admin made every effort to allow us to safely visit. Mom was always dolled up with hair, nails, and makeup done as she liked - jewelry and outfit just so.
When she was palliative, we had the chance to sit in her room and silently observe the daily goings-on, the ins and outs of life at the Comox Valley Seniors’ Village.
It astonished us.
It quickly became evident to us that our mom was never alone. In fact, the staff was like family. Her room had been a break room of sorts. You knew her. The music she liked, the family stories, her two daughters’ lives - you knew her and loved her, and it showed. Indignant situations were dealt with professionally and with respect. She trusted you.
You had her back.
She responded to your voices and touch. You lovingly brushed her hair, showed her videos of your pets, soothed her, and kissed her. You also took care of her daughters who were stunned and immobilized with the tyranny of grief.
Mom died on Remembrance Day. I remember hearing a resident who was in a wheelchair insisting on ‘standing’ at 11 o’clock out of respect for veterans.
And you held him up.
We think you are heroes and if ever there are days when you question your career choice, please know that it was evident to us that we don’t know what we would have done without you. You made a profound, indelible difference in my mom’s life and death.
You will always have a fond place in this final chapter of our mom’s life and in our broken hearts.
With utmost respect, gratitude and awe, we say thank you, thank you, thank god for you.
Caroline and Julie Gauthier